• Flagging operation in place on Highway 330 June 17, 2019
    One-way flagging on Highway 330 near Running Springs through Thursday, June 20, for a Caltrans project.
  • All roads to Big Bear open June 14, 2019
    The hard closure of Highway 18 near the Mitsubishi Plant has been lifted.
  • Collision snarls traffic June 14, 2019
    Emergency crews are investigating a traffic collision on Big Bear Boulevard near Bonanza Trail.
  • Brush fire reported in area of Mitsubishi Plant June 14, 2019
    UPDATE 5:30a.m. June 14: Highway 18 between Camp Rock Road and Johnson Grade near Big Bear remains closed due to a brush fire
  • Traffic collision sends one to hospital June 13, 2019
    The Big Bear Sheriff's Station is investigating a two-car traffic collision at the intersection of Big Bear Boulevard and Fox Farm Road in Big Bear Lake. The incident was reported at approximately 12:24 p.m. on Wednesday, June 13.
  • Grad week arrives for Big Bear students June 12, 2019
    Graduation season has begun.
  • Chip away for defensible space June 12, 2019
    Get your CHIP together, then register tree and brush trimmings for removal. Big Bear Fire Department has resumed its chipping program to alleviate the piles created by recent significant storm damage. Online registration is available at www.thinisin.org and is offered…
  • Sierra Club talks geothermal electricity June 12, 2019
    Randy Carroll-Bradd first learned about geothermal powered electricity while serving on the Citizen’s Advisory Board of CPS, the power company in San Antonio, Texas. As a retired manufacturing engineer, Carroll-Bradd became intrigued with the potential of this constant, baseload, sustainable…

History

Big Bear was originally inhabited by the Serrano Native American tribe. In the 1800’s and prior, the area was teaming with huge grizzly bears and other wildlife. As today, it was a winter wonderland in cold months and a sunny, warm spot in the summer. These days it is best knows as the most popular Southern California ski destination, as well as a great place for summer sports like boating, camping, and fishing. While many people contributed to the popularity of the now year-round mountain resort, a few include:

In 1845, the mayor of little Los Angeles, Benjamin Wilson, discovered Big Bear Valley. He was chasing an Ute Chief named Walkara into the Santa Ana Canyon of San Bernadino. There, high into the forest, Wilson and his team found a pristine village teaming with wildlife, namely grizzly bears. For this reason, the area was called Big Bear Valley.

In the 1860’s, William Holcomb was hunting for bear. He unexpectedly stumbled onto gold in the valley. This began Southern California’s largest gold rush and brought an influx of residents to the area.

In 1888, the first Big Bear area hotel was built in 1888. The builder, Gus Knight, was just 21 years old. He felt sure the lake would bring visitors to the area.

In 1912, a resident named Kirk Phillips created a bus line that ran from San Bernadino below into the mountain region of Big Bear Valley. He got the idea while on a trip in New York City where he saw a bus line created by rows on trucks where passengers sat. His bus line to Big Bear was nothing fancy– just trucks with several rows of seats. This route, called the Mountain Auto Line, greatly increased the numbers of people travelling back and forth to Big Bear. The trip previously took two days using carriages.

In 1921 the Stillwells Lodge and Ballroom was opened by Carl and Mamie Stillwell. It quickly became famous throughout Southern California for dancing and live music by the lake. Visitors could take a swim in the pool, dine at the restaurant, play a game of tennis, or take a boat ride on the lake all from the same place. Popular bands played on site constantly, so this was a place everyone wanted to see.

Also in 1921, another soon-to-be famous landmark opened–Pan Hot Springs Hotel. Emile Jesserun bought dozens of acres of land that included a local hot spring and built the hotel on this land. This was the area’s first major resort. It was destroyed by fire in 1933.

In 1947 Tommy Tyndall, a young but expert skier, started ski schools and the Big Bear Winter Club. He decided to open a ski resort and found an ideal spot east of Big Bear Lake. In 1952, this site became the now famous Snow Summit.

During the 1950’s, Big Bear changed from a summer resort area to a year-round resort due to the growing popularity of downhill skiing. In the 1980’s snowboarding debuted and this sport also gained popularity, as did Big Bear where people flocked to do it from Southern California and beyond. Read about or, even better, visit the Big Bear Museum. This historical landmark is located in Big Bear City at the eastern end of Big Bear Airport on Greenway Drive.